CONGRATULATIONS to our partners at NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries- and to everyone who worked on this!
POSTED: 03/19/15, 11:59 AM PDT | Marin Independent Journal Editorial
It’s remarkable, but true: Despite opposition from the oil and gas industry and unsuccessful efforts in Congress, the Obama administration this month protected one of the world’s most productive ecosystems in a vast swath of ocean off the Northern California coast.
It took more than 10 years of legislative efforts, capped by a plan put forth by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The move more than doubles the size of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. Oil and gas exploration will now be banned not just off the Marin coast, in an area encompassing the Farallon Islands, but now also north along Sonoma and Mendocino counties’ coastlines to just above Point Arena.
That protects a rich feeding area for 25 threatened and endangered species, including blue whales and humpback whales, northern fur seals and leatherback turtles. The area is home to a third of the world’s whales and dolphins, more than 163 species of birds and more than 300 species of fish. Food in the area supports the largest assemblage of breeding seabirds in the continental United States on the Farallon Islands. Expanded protection was championed by former congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who began pushing for it in the late 1990s. Despite House passage of legislation in 2008 the effort languished in Congress. The move was kept alive by Sen. Barbara Boxer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and in 2012 the NOAA proposed it as part of a revised management plan. There were packed hearings, but despite industry resistance the expanded protection enjoyed widespread public support.
Rep. Jared Huffman touted it as the culmination of a decades-long effort by environmental leaders, fishermen and the tourism industry. It took time, patience and political muscle, but ultimately the effort of Woolsey and others paid off. At a time when environmental regulations are under attack from a Republican-controlled Congress, the expansion stands out as a particularly remarkable victory for California legislators, the Obama administration – and the environment.
Protecting Vital Waters as Marine Sanctuaries
Posted by Mike Boots on March 12, 2015 at 11:57 AM EDT whitehouse.gov
Forty years ago, President Ford approved the designation of the country’s first marine sanctuary — the USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protecting the shipwreck of one of the most famous Civil War ironclads. Since then, 13 other marine protected areas have been added to the Sanctuary system, encompassing more than 150,000 square miles of ocean along our coasts, in the Great Lakes, and near the Hawaiian islands and American Samoa.
Like the Monitor, some of these sanctuaries and monuments provide insight into our nation’s history. Others protect areas rich in biological diversity and significant for scientific research and discovery. Many are economically valuable for fishing, tourism, and recreation. Together, the network of sanctuaries helps preserve a natural resource that all Americans depend on, no matter where they live: a healthy and thriving ocean.
And now, the Obama administration is making that treasured network even stronger. NOAA announced today that it is expanding two existing sanctuaries off California’s North-central coast. The expansion will more than double the current size of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, ensuring that we are protecting all that the region has to offer — from its biologically rich habitats primed for fishing and scientific research to the seascapes and shipwrecks that attract tourists and explorers.
The expansion, which is based on more than a decade of public comment and research by NOAA and its scientific partners in the region, extends west and north from the original sanctuaries up to Point Arena, home to another treasured space the President permanently protected last year. Following the lead of former Representative Lynn Woolsey, members of the California delegation have worked for years to afford greater protection for these vital waters.
The expanded sanctuary area includes one of the most productive upwelling zones in North America — a process in which deeper, colder waters rise and replace surface water as it’s pushed away by the wind. These colder waters are rich in nutrients and support an incredible abundance and diversity of marine life in a complex food web that is essential for commercially valuable fisheries, including red urchin, Dungeness crab, and salmon. These fisheries are an important part of local economies along the length of the North-central California coast. In addition to the numerous species of fish, endangered whales, seabirds, and extensive living reefs of corals and sponges all call the sanctuaries home…..